Newly designed for 2015, the Nissan Murano is a midsize, versatile crossover SUV. It’s available in four trim levels and all with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
My weekly driver of the USA Pro Challenge, a seven-day pro professional bike race in Colorado, is the SL trim with all-wheel drive. Standard equipment on the base S model includes: 18-inch alloy wheels, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and cruise control. Electronics and entertainment features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, smartphone app integration and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack.
The SL trim, two trims advanced, includes a host of additional features from the SV trim, plus a good chuck of extras that make than Nissan Murano stand out in its class. The features include: a Bose audio system as standard and further adds heated outside mirrors, driver memory settings, a blind spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alerts, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 360-degree parking camera system, ambient interior lighting and a power liftgate.
The SL trim further adds to the Murano’s appeal with a technology package that includes: a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning and crash mitigation system.
My first day with the Nissan Murano took me from the Denver International Airport to Steamboat Springs. The route progressed along Interstate 70 and then U.S. 40. The mountain route was 178 miles and took about 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Winding mountain roads with steep ascents and descents isn’t always the best driving for SUV. But the Murano handled the trek with satisfaction. It’s powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower. It’s matched with a continuously variable transmission and my test vehicle has the all-wheel drive option.
I immediately felt comfortable in the Murano. It has upright seating, reminiscent of captain’s seating in a van. In some of the steepest sections of the drive, the Nissan momentarily struggled. But it has 7.5-second 0-60 mph acceleration rating. That’s among the quickest times in its midsize cross segment.